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AO 2012-36: Green Party of Connecticut

The Green Party of Connecticut (the GPC) qualifies as a state party committee under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) because: (1) the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) qualifies as a political party; (2) the GPC is part of the official GPUS structure; and (3) the GPC is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the GPUS at the state level in Connecticut.

Background

The Act defines a “state committee” as an organization that, by virtue of the bylaws of a “political party,” is part of the official party structure and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the political party at the state level, as determined by the Commission. 2 U.S.C. §431(15); 11 CFR 100.14(a). A “political party” is an “association, committee, or organization which nominates a candidate for election to any federal office whose name appears on the election ballot as the candidate of such association, committee, or organization.” 2 U.S.C. §431(16); 11 CFR 100.15.

The determination of a state party organization’s status as the state committee of a political party depends on three elements. First, the national party of which the state party organization is a part must itself be a “political party.” Second, the state party organization must be part of the official structure of the national party. Third, the state party organization must be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the national party at the state level. See AOs 2010-13 (Libertarian Party of Florida), 2009-16 (Libertarian Party of Ohio), 2008-16 (Libertarian Party of  Colorado) and 2007-06 (Libertarian Party of Indiana).

Analysis

The Commission must first assess whether the national party qualifies as a “political party” under the Act and Commission regulations. 2 U.S.C. §431(15) and (16); 11 CFR 100.14 and 100.15. In advisory opinions from 2001 forward, the Commission has recognized the Green Party as a political party and the GPUS as the national committee of the Green Party. See AO 2001-13 (Green Party of the United States); see also AOs 2008-13 (Pacific Green Party of Oregon) and 2003-27 (Missouri Green Party). The Commission is aware of no changes that would alter that conclusion.

Second, the GPC must qualify as part of the official structure of the national party. 2 U.S.C. §431(15); 11 CFR 100.14(a). In past advisory opinions, the Commission has considered supporting documentation indicating that the state party is part of the official party structure. The GPUS's bylaws and rules state that the GPC is an active, accredited State party with five delegates on the GPUS's National Committee. The GPUS also allocated ten delegates to the GPC for the 2012 Presidential nominating convention. The GPC is therefore part of the GPUS official structure under its bylaws. 11 CFR 100.14. Additionally, email from Budd Dickinson, the GPUS Secretary, to Christopher Reilly, GPC Deputy Treasurer, affirms that GPC is part of the GPUS official party structure. See AO 2008-16; 2008-13; 2007-06.

Third, the GPC must maintain responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the national party at the state level. 2 U.S.C. §431(15); 11 CFR 100.14(a). In previous advisory opinions, the Commission has evaluated this element by considering two criteria:

  • Whether the organization has placed a “candidate” on the ballot (thereby qualifying as a “political party”); and
  • Whether the bylaws or other governing documents of the state party organization indicate activity commensurate with the day-to-day functions and operations of a political party at the state level.

Placing a “candidate” on the ballot is required because the requesting organization’s existence as a political party is prerequisite for state committee status. A state party organization must actually obtain ballot access for one or more “candidates,” as defined in the Act. See 2 U.S.C. §431(2), §431(15) and §431(16); 11 CFR 100.3(a), 100.14(a) and 100.15. The GPC has satisfied this requirement by obtaining state ballot access for Ralph Nader in the 2000 election cycle, and by placing two candidates on the ballot for the House of Representatives: Charles Pillsbury in 2002 and Ken Krayeske in 2010. Reports filed with the commission indicate that all three of the foregoing received contributions and made expenditures in excess of $5,000, thus satisfying the Act's definition of “candidate.” 11 CFR 100.3(a). Accordingly, the GPC qualifies as a “political party” under the Act and Commission regulations.

The Commission also determined that the GPC Bylaws establish specific responsibilities for the GPC's officers and committees and, taken together, delineate activity commensurate with the day-to-day functions and operations of a political party on the state level, thus satisfying the second criterion. 11 CFR 100.14(a).

Because all three elements of the definition of “state committee” are satisfied, the Commission determined that the GPC qualifies as a state committee of a political party under the Act and Commission regulations.

Date Issued: December 6, 2012; Length: 5 pages

(Posted 12/11/12; By: Christopher Berg)

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